On Losing It All

Having fingers guarantees
nothing, I found out.

It was in a cave near
Sils im Engadin that
I learned this,
the unflagging dark
a rocky womb open
as a way of closing in.

I pinch at the tiny rocks
on the ground for hours,
until going backwards

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The Girl Who Wanted Soup

She rose at 3:15 from her plastic chair,
the wooden desk carved with curses.
Her bones began to sing.
She ran home to unwed shoes,
lost socks, and blue shadows,
chores to complete until dark,
criticism swallowed like bites of tough meat.

She focused on the bright stars,
the winter air, crisp as a white shirt,
and soup.

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Say The Word

today come around to telling me
and I will believe

you say you’re better in email
but a word
is hollowed and lost
blazing through starry cyberfields in the night hours
constellations overflow, echoless
a dipped arrow lands nowhere, pierces no heart
the would-be elixir never encounters the throbbing soul

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Summer Ended Long Ago

I was the woman going home
after a hard day.

I took the long way
across the soccer field,
no one was playing,
the clouds tasseled.

If there were still good things
in this world
I wanted to feel it in the ground
that holds me up,

catches me when I fall.

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A Clandesence of Angels

I live in the lavender gut of a horse, a beating heart just beyond the wall. And beyond that two old ladies sip tea on a white porch in the crabapple South, hoping for something that might squirrel up out of the ground, the age-old ground, the Southern ground, the ground at the top of a hill: a thin line of angels listening all boneless and hospitable from above, managing nothing with their tiny, modest, angel hands, hands that might just as well be days of the week. The long-gone Civil War is wearing a small red-and-gold cap once worn by an organ grinder’s monkey.

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Collateral Damage

Mother died. Father fled. Chaos ensued
as though I were swarmed by hornets

unloosed from a nest hidden high above.
His second marriage magnified the buzz

and stings, my hands tied behind my back.
After seventy years, there’s still a gallery full

of fierce memories. The debris of the natural
disaster that divided self-before from self-after.

I fold and refold the blanket of experience,
unable to make the whole lie flat again.

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The Poet at 45

My son winding up to hit a ball off a tee,
I was crawling out of older motherhood
the way you back out of the tent or debark from a canoe,
careful not to disturb the sides or stand up too soon.
Adding distance between myself and the scattered contents
of a diaper bag, trailing Cheerios, wipes, fruit roll-ups,
as gingerly as my son charged ahead exuberant in a growing body,
I stepped into my office, where I’d relocated everything that was mine
and that couldn’t be lost or torn or shredded,
shut behind me the door of the room from which I’d once sought escape,
carrying the notebook downstairs to the chair, outside to the sun

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Open Carry

Babies, ice cream cones, umbrellas, cell phones, walking sticks,
Groceries, the newspaper, a fresh pizza, flowers for the one you love,
Car keys, a purse, pen and paper, a snack, reading glasses,
A book, two books, a Bible, a pair of gloves, lip balm, a lipstick,
Bicycle helmet, a hairbrush, gum and breath mints, a hand mirror,
Earbuds and a pocket watch, a penknife, nail clippers,
Camera, screwdriver, hammer and pliers, a wrench,
Flip-flops and a towel, a folding chair, a handkerchief,
Which is a very strange word when you look at it,
A Leatherman, another strange word, but we got used to it

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3 Degrees

Even the universe was young once
but though it was small
its events were immense
and shaped the course of all that followed
the matter inside us
the starlight around us

No memories remain of that formative time
but its afterglow is everywhere
faint but unmistakable —
three degrees in the background
pervading our world
whether we see it or not

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